The Battle of Mametz Wood

Mametz Wood was the objective of the 38th (Welsh) Division during the First Battle of the Somme. The attack occurred between the 7th and 12th July 1916.  On the 7th July the men were halted by machine gun fire before they reached the wood.  Further attacks on the 8th July failed to improve the position.

The attack on the 10th July was on a larger scale than had been previously attempted and despite heavy casualties, the fringe of the wood was soon reached; some bayonet fighting took place before the wood was entered and a number of German machine gun positions silenced. Fighting in the wood was fierce with the Germans giving ground stubbornly.

By the 12th July, the wood was effectively cleared of the enemy, but the Welsh Division had lost about 4,000 men, killed or wounded. The Division would not be used in a massed attack again until 31st July 1917.

Today the wood still stands, surrounded by farmland, and overgrown shell craters and trenches can still be made out.

To commemorate the centenary of the Battle of Mametz Wood, I researched the men whose names are recorded as having served at Mametz within the Cardiff City Corporation Roll of Honour held at Glamorgan Archives.

The roll of honour records the name, address, age, rank and regiment of these soldiers, which meant that I had a starting point for the research which appears in my booklet. Some of the names have revealed an interesting hidden history of information, whereas other names did not reveal very much at all.

This is the first of two documents researching Mametz Wood. This one details the names within the Roll of Honour and part two will commemorate members of 16th (Cardiff City) Battalion, Welsh Regiment who also met their end at Mametz.  It is available to read on the Glamorgan Archives website at:

http://glamarchives.gov.uk/collection/first-world-war/

We would love to hear from members of the public who may recognise the names of possible ancestors, and be happy to come forward with information additional to that found within the records.

Rosemary Nicholson, Glamorgan Archives Volunteer

********************

Glamorgan Archives holds the formal roll of honour of Cardiff Corporation employees killed in action during the First World War, along with application forms for inclusion of servicemen in the roll.

The forms were completed by individuals applying for the inclusion of their relatives, both living and dead, in the roll of honour. These were people employed by the City Corporation at the time of their enlistment.  The forms typically contain the name of the serviceman along with his place and date-of-birth, address at time of enlistment, and length of his residence in Cardiff.  A note is often made of the school he attended.  His occupation within the Council is noted, as is his marital status, and the regiment he joined.  Date and place of death are included where relevant, as are any medals or other distinctions awarded and the date on which they were bestowed.  The name and address of the servicemen’s parents is often listed.  Families were asked to send a photograph of their relative, although not all survive; many were returned to the applicants on their request, possibly as this was the only photograph they had of their loved one.

The files are arranged by the department in which the serviceman worked at the time of his enlistment. Files are held for the City Treasurer and Controller’s Department; the City Engineer’s Public Works Department; the Street Cleansing and Street Lighting Departments; Heating and Ventilating Staff; the Tramways Section;the Property and Markets Section; the Waterworks Department; the Medical Officer of Health’s Department; the Sanatorium; the Parks Department and the Cemetery Section.

Amongst the hundreds of application forms we find George Tucker of Arabella Street, Roath.

George Tucker

He was born in Stour Provost in Dorset in 1879, the son of William and Emily Tucker.  He received his education at the village school.  George married Mary Harriet Preece at Branksome Park, Dorset, in 1903.  They moved to Cardiff in 1907 and lived at Wyndham Street in Canton before moving to Roath.  They had a young son, Leonard.  George worked as a lamplighter for Cardiff Corporation.  He enlisted on 5 November 1915, joining the 15th Welsh Regiment as a Private.  He was killed in action at the Battle of Mametz Wood on 11 July 1916, aged 37.  He is commemorated on the Thiepval Memorial.

George Tucker letter

Arthur Thomas of Forrest Street, Grangetown, worked as a warehouseman before gaining employment as a tram conductor with Cardiff Corporation.

Arthur Thomas

Born in 1891, he had lived in Cardiff all his life, and attended Grangetown Board School.  In 1911 he was living with his mother, Sarah, his sister, Mary Jane, and his grandfather, Edwin.  He joined the 16th Welsh (Cardiff City) Regiment in November 1914 as a Private, and was later promoted to Lance Corporal.  He died at the Battle of Mametz Wood on 7 July 1916.  He is commemorated on the Thiepval Memorial.

Samuel Jenkins was born in Caerphilly on 25th February 1889, the son of Morgan Jenkins, a blacksmith of Caerphilly, and his wife Jane who came from Somerset.

By 1891 the family were living at 21 Market Road in Canton, Cardiff. Samuel attended Radnor Road School and worked as a mason’s labourer before gaining employment with Cardiff Corporation’s Public Works Department as a sewerman.

Samuel enlisted at Cardiff on 15th February 1915 as a private in the 16th Welsh Regiment.  He embarked to France on 4th December 1915.  He was killed in action, at Mametz, on 7 July 1916.  His mother, Jane, received a £5 10s war gratuity.  Samuel was awarded the 1915 Star and the British War and Victory Medals and is recorded on the memorial at Thiepval.

Samuel Jenkins letter 2

Samuel’s brother, Edward, was five years older than him and born in Sheffield, before the family returned to Wales. He worked as a labourer before he too joined the Public Works Department of Cardiff Corporation as a timekeeper.  Edward enlisted in the East Surrey Regiment and died in France on 2 June 1918.  He was awarded the 1915 Star and the British War and Victory Medals.  Edward’s grave is in the Warley-Baillon Communal Cemetery at Somme, France.

Samuel and Edward’s younger brother, Evan (below), worked as a blacksmith and wheelwright with the Corporation. He served with the Army Service Corps and survived the War.

Evan Jenkins

George Henry Tarr was born on 20th December 1887 in Canton, Cardiff.  He was the son of William Henry Tarr, a labourer from Devon, and his wife, Eliza, from Somerset.  He was the eldest of 8 children, 6 of whom survived childhood.  George followed in his father’s footsteps, becoming a road labourer with Cardiff Corporation’s Highways Department.  In 1911 he was living with his family at 28 Glynne Street, Canton.

George enlisted at Cardiff, becoming a private in the 16th Welsh Regiment.  He was killed in action at Mametz on 7 July 2016.

George Tarr letter

George’s younger brothers – Charles, Fred and Albert – also served in the War.

Charles was born in 1892. He enlisted as a private in the Devonshire Regiment and embarked from Marseilles on 13th November 1915, disembarking at Salonika on the 23rd November.  He was wounded in action on 24 April 1917, receiving a gunshot wound to the thigh.  He transferred to the 819 Employment Company of the Labour Corps on 4 October 1917.  Charles survived the war and returned to Cardiff where he married Flora M Geet during the summer of 1920.  He died in Cardiff in September 1972.

Fred was born in Cardiff in 1898. He was married to Lilian Mary King of 7 Lyndhurst Street, Cardiff.  Fred enlisted at Great Yarmouth, in the Royal Garrison Artillery, on 12th November 1915.  He was awarded the 1914-15 Start, the British War Medal and the Victory Medal.  He was discharged on 26 June 1919 aged 24, and died at Southampton in June 1947.

Albert was born in Cardiff in 1901. He served with the 20th Middlesex Regiment, the 5th Lancers and the Hussars.  He survived the war and received his discharge on 30 January 1919.  He returned to Cardiff and in 1927 married Elizabeth M Lewis.  He died in Cardiff in June 1931.

These are just a few of the stories relating to the employees of Cardiff Corporation who served in the First World War.

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3 thoughts on “The Battle of Mametz Wood

  1. Would like to share a photo with you if I may of the Warrant Officers, Staff Sergeants and Sergeants of the 10th Battalion Welsh Regiment taken at Rhyl in 1915 which I have.

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